The Wonder of the Creative Mind

This last Sunday I had an epic moment.
I was sitting on the toilet, staring at a towel.
Suddenly, into my head came pictures of where and exactly how to begin the novel, In the Zone: Pitin's Problem. The novel has been finished for six years. It is too fat with an over-the-horizon word count. I've been trimming on it (not adding any more than I could help) trying to get the word count down. It's had some other issues.
One: in the beginning the hero is unlovable.
Two: in the beginning the heroine is unlovable.
Three: sloth (I've not sent it out but for a few rejections)

The beginning has been rewritten four times including this one. But this one is perfect. Two short paragraphs. The hero is now lovable. The heroine too. What took six years?


I should have been letting my creative mind do the work. Ten years ago when I began to write, I didn't have any idea how people wrote novels. I thought they began at the beginning and wrote until it was finished. I didn't have any idea there was any other way to do it. I decided to begin the next day, but as I lay me down to sleep, a vision popped into my head. I got up out of bed and wrote that down. The next day I read it and my head added to it. I got to watch as the story unfolded as a video. I found out I get to see through all of the character's eyes what is going on. I write until I see no more and don't know what happens next.

The next time I sit down to write, I re-read a bit of what has been written. I fix it. New word choices or explanations. For example, it is really knotheaded to use the same word six times on one page--like she was overwhelmed by her overwhelming feelings as he took her in his arms and overwhelmed her protests with is overwhelmingly passionate gaze.

By the time I reached uncharted territory, my creative brain portion (I think it is supposed to be the right side) had the video warmed up and my fingers would fly taking the story forward. But it got bad, like smoke in the house as you wonder where it is coming from and what is making it. I got scarred. Was I really just crazy? Suddenly, story ideas and odd characters would appear in my head when I was doing something as mundane as vacuuming or washing my hair. Weirder than that, odd things began showing up in my head videos. I'd have the heroine pick up something, that ended up being crucial later, but I had no idea why or that it would when she picked it up. It was like an unseen portion of my brain needed unnecessary details to the story that much later ended up being absolutely necessary. When I say much later, I'm talking months. How did my creative brain know that? How did it know it was going to need something later for something I didn't know about then? Scary.

But writing was really fun! Or rather writing the story was really fun. I still hated writing anything else. I didn't fantasize on better ways for movies to end. I didn't fantasize about book endings. Visions of more stories kept showing up. When I drove to town. When I'd do the dishes. I went to a friend about my sudden mental issues. She was supportive but what did she know, she doesn't write.
I finished the novel in eight months. Then called to find a book on marketing. Penny Rader, love that she is, asked me what I was writing and steered me towards WARA. I was able to talk to other members and found out I wasn't crazy, I had a creative mind. My friend? She found a video tape of an interview with an author. Not only did I have a creative mind, but it worked like other creative minds.
But weirder territory was ahead of me. I found out that since I began to write, other things began to happen. I could draw. Not just draw better than ever before, but from different perspectives--in my head. Problem solving abilities went way up too.

Since Sunday, I've been marveling at my wonderful, odd, creative brain--and wondering why I bother to think at all.

P.S. Creative minds are as different from each other as there are different colors of horses. The creativity expresses itself in several different ways for writing. Some create stories like playing with doll-houses and dolls. They move the bits and pieces around. Some have a thing they want said and then concentrate on the best way to get that theme or idea across to their reader. It doesn't matter what kind you are, your process is yours. Use it. I'm going back to my videos--there's some folks I've left in a cabin. No telling what they've got up to while I write this.


Rox Delaney said...

As always, well said! And creative people sometimes change their processes a little a time. Nothing is written in stone. However it's done, we all find the end eventually.

Joan Vincent said...

Nina, I started writing in just the same way. After joining WARA and getting to know other authors I was and am still amazed how alike and how different we are in our writing process all at the same time. It's comforting to know our fears are shared.

Reese Mobley said...

Nina, your creative mind will take you very far. Or, as Yoda would say, "very far your creative mind will take you." (grin) Either way, go with it!

Nina Sipes said...

As always, you say the nicest things! WARA and all of you have helped me immeasurably with my shyness. The writing world, though worrisome in the beginning, has opened up many vistas and possibilities in personal development. I don't know why anyone would want to stop, the writing world is so fun.

Nina Sipes said...

Isn't it though! I am continually surprised by how some people's process works for them. Amazing. And yet we all write. How different the other creative talents must be too.

Nina Sipes said...

My DH occasionally lets me know my creative mind might get me a shallow grave. That's just because he's so focused on what he does he doesn't see details. Like the bet we made last saturday on whether the Republic of Central Congo still exists. I said no. He said yes. I asked what he wanted to win. He said a lemon meringue pie. I said, if I lose, I'll make you a lemon meringue pie and you will do the dishes for a week. He said yes. I repeated the stakes. He said yes.
He won the bet.
I'm hiding under the bed.

Unknown said...

Nina: your words are like a drug. They draw me in and I can't let go. You are so creative and talented! I love reading your comments on our loop as well as the blog. You are a gifted story teller!

Nina Sipes said...

You say the nicest things. My words are like a drug pulling you in...that's pretty thrilling. Thank you everso. Now, walk carefully to your bedroom and curl up for a nap. (whispering) you need some quiet tiiiimmmmeee.

Penny Rader said...

Nina, I'm so very glad you're a member of WARA. I truly love reading your posts. They never fail to inspire me. You never fail to inspire me. And you also almost always make me laugh (which is a good thing!).

I wish I had the story video running in my head, like you do. I think I'm more the doll house, paper doll kinda writer. Must be why I'm always ripping stuff out of magazines. Hmmm. Maybe I should get myself some Barbie dolls!